Clearview Stable’s Ever So Clever put in a furious rally down the stretch of Friday’s $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park and ran down pacesetter Chanel’s Legacy to earn her first stakes victory.
With Luis Contreras aboard, the Medaglia d’Oro filly bided her time near the rear of the 12-strong field as Chanel’s Legacy established fractions of :23.37, :47.03, 1:11.18 and 1:37 on the lead. Ever So Clever began moving on the turn and swung ride entering the stretch. She kicked into high gear and was 1 3/4 lengths clear of Chanel’s Legacy on the wire while completing 1 1/16 miles over the fast main track in 1:43.40.
Ever So Clever was sent off the 15-1 sixth choice in the Fantasy and returned $33.60. She earned 100 points toward a starting berth in the May 5 Kentucky Oaks (G1), as the Fantasy was the final contest in the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series of points races and worth 100-40-20-10 to the respective top four.
Chanel’s Legacy already boasted 11 points prior to the Fantasy thanks to a fourth-placing in last year’s Delta Downs Princess (G3) and a win in the Martha Washington Stakes. The gray miss also scored in the Dixie Belle Stakes this year and entered the Fantasy off a third, placed second via disqualification, in the Purple Martin Stakes, three weeks ago.
Ever So Clever is now third on the Kentucky Oaks Leaderboard with 106 points while Chanel’s Legacy is also firmly in the Oaks field in 10th on the Leaderboard with 51 points.
Vexatious just missed second by a neck and that may have cost her a spot in the Oaks starting gate. The bay lass ran third in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G3) while making her stakes bow last out, and with her third in the Fantasy shows 40 total points. She’s in 16th currently on the Kentucky Oaks Leaderboard and will need two defections to make the field.
Torrent followed in fourth by another 4 1/4 lengths while only two necks separated her from Benner Island and My Sweet Stella. Spooky Woods, Dutch Parrot, Conquest Bandido, Drinks on Broadway, Kell Paso and Conquest Slayer finished out the order under the wire.
Ever So Clever will return to the site of her maiden debut victory under the Twin Spires of Churchill Downs last July 1. She was unable to factor when fifth next out in the Adirondack Stakes (G2) at Saratoga and returned to Churchill for a half-length second in the Pocahontas Stakes (G2). The filly next captured an allowance at Keeneland and concluded 2016 with a third-place run in the Golden Rod Stakes (G2) back at Churchill.
Ever So Clever kicked of her sophomore season in the Martha Washington Stakes on February 11, finishing fifth, and filled that same spot last out in the Honeybee Stakes (G3). She’s now earned $377,850 to go along with an 8-3-1-1 career mark.
Bred in Kentucky by Clearsky Farms, Ever So Clever is out of the Mr. Greeley mare Foxy Danseur, who was a multiple Grade 3-placed multiple stakes winner on track. Ever So Clever’s fourth dam is Grade 1 vixen Personal Business, and she counts as half-siblings stakes-placed winners Tathqeef and Miss Centerfold.
Steve Asmussen, trainer Ever So Clever, winner
“Right here, I was ‘Keep coming, mama. Keep coming.’
“(Jockey) Luis (Contreras) gave her a perfect trip. Nice filly. Nice filly. The filly broke fine from the 12 hole. He made an immediate decision, got over. She was probably only 6-7 off the lead around the first turn, two-wide and carrying him well. I thought it made the difference in the race.
“I felt very good about how the filly trained and that he had ridden her before. I felt we had a lot more horse going into today.”
You seemed extremely happy
“The filly has a great personality, and we’ve always felt this way about her. And for her now to win a nice graded stakes is what she deserves.”
Kentucky Oaks, we assume?
“She’s going to Churchill Monday and it’s fun to have her there.”
Luis Contreras, jockey Ever So Clever, winner
“She felt great today. The last time I got an opportunity to ride her, she finished fifth. I learned a lot and (trainer) Steve (Asmussen) gave me some advice about the filly, how she likes to run. We got everything perfect today. From the time we broke, she did everything by herself. I just waited, got patient and kicked in at the quarter pole, and she gave me everything.”
Did you feel like you could run the leader down?
“Once I started making my move, I wasn’t worried about anybody in the race. I just went with the momentum and enjoyed the last part of the race.”
You seemed pretty excited
“Oh, that was great. This is special for me.”
Alex Birzer, jockey Chanel’s Legacy, second
”Yeah she just ran a big race, had a little more time in between races this go and she just ran a big race. They (did) an excellent job getting her ready for this. Wasn’t necessarily planning on going, but you just can’t see what happens and nobody else really went. They let me nurse a nice little lead; she ran a big race.”
Lynn Chleborad, trainer Chanel’s Legacy, second
“She tried so hard. I’m so proud of her. It was a nail bitter right down to the wire. I thought Alex did a great job backing them up. I’m proud of the whole team, the horse. It’s exciting.”
Allen Poindexter, owner Chanel’s Legacy, second
“Oh, second was great. Forty points (toward Kentucky Oaks berth). I don’t know what to say.”
Kent Desormeaux, jockey Vexatious, third
“She ran a much improved race, but I had to do a lot of altering of course and I was beaten a lip for second.”
Ricardo Santana Jr., jockey Benner Island, fifth
“I won’t make an excuse. We were in a perfect spot in first turn and in second turn we were in a perfect spot and she got a little tired.”
Brad Cox, trainer Benner Island, fifth
“She was in a great position. I don’t know. She didn’t have the answer today. He had her in a perfect spot. I honestly don’t know. Disappointed. It’s a roller-coaster game, and most of the time the roller-coaster is going down.”